Saturday, April 16, 2016

31 UHeart Organizing: Small Space Secret Storage Ideas

The main reason I decided to bring on a contributing team of writers, is because I wanted to add a little diversity to my content.  There are only so many nooks and crannies of my own home that I can organize and share, and at the end of the day, my tips can't possibly hit home with every reader.

That said, over the years I have received endless requests for tips relating to apartment living, as well as small space organizational solutions.  I haven't resided in an apartment for almost 15 years now, however, the lovely ladies of the DIY Playbook blog know a thing or two about making the most of limited space.  Not only do they have some great tips to share today, they also have great taste and style. #fangirl

I am honored to have Bridget and Casey back today to share their favorite secret storage tips.



It's true, we heart hidden storage... A lot. We love this type of storage partly because it's a pretty and very effective way to de-clutter our homes, but mostly because we both live in very small spaces and storage space is very limited (Casey lives in a condo in downtown Chicago and Bridget's house is a small ranch right outside the city. Both about 1,200 square feet).

Instead of complaining about our limited closet space or lack of basements/large garages, we embrace the small spaces we have by living with less and making the space we do have available work as efficiently as possible. We are not ones to toot our own horns (we're actually quite the opposite of that), but we do have to admit that living in these small spaces has forced us to get pretty creative and become pretty good at hiding our "stuff". Sometimes so good that we forget where we stored it! #oops

(Tip: that's where Jen's amazing label tutorials come in very handy.)


Today, we are going to share five of our best tricks and favorite ways to incorporate hidden storage into our spaces. We will first identify some of the "issues" we have faced over the years in our small spaces, and then focus on how we resolved these issues in a functional, yet fashionable way!

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PROBLEM #1:  I have a small closet and it's bursting with clothing!

SOLUTION #1:  First things first, you need to downsize your stuff in order to have it fit into the spaces that you do have. We are big fans of the "one thing in, one thing out" method. If we buy a new sweater, we better find an old sweater we never wear, and donate it immediately before we can bring anything new into our closets. Then, we take all of the items that we do love and want in our homes and get them organized. Because both of our closets are pretty small, we only keep seasonal items out. All out-of-season clothing, shoes, and accessories are stored elsewhere.


I utilize the space under our beds for these items. These storage bins from Ikea come in handy, and I love that they have a zippered top so my items won't get dusty.


When the change of season happens, I neatly fold all of my seasonal items and place them into these storage bins. One has shoes, one holds clothing, and another holds accessories. It's a great way to utilize free space, while keeping my items secure and out of the way.

Plus, my master bedroom still looks neat and tidy!

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PROBLEM #2:  Some of the rooms in my house don't have proper closets.

SOLUTION #2:  Choose furniture that allows you to hide storage while still being stylish!


Our small house came with even smaller closets, so creating alternative storage space in each room is important to keep our essentials hidden. Like Casey, I change out my clothes every season to maximize my closet's storage space, but even that doesn't solve all of my storage problems. Instead of complaining about the fact that our closet space is a little less than desirable, I have come to terms with this reality and try to keep it in mind when buying clothes… but also when buying furniture. You may be wondering what closets have to do with buying furniture, and I can't blame you. Allow me to explain. Do you see that trunk pictured above?

I scored that trunk for $10 (!!) at a local garage sale. Not only do I love that it is gold, glamorous and cost me only ten bucks, but I especially love all the secret storage it offers in my office.


Before that trunk, I had a regular coffee table that was super cute, but offered very minimal storage. Once I swapped that old table out with this trunk, I realized that trying to incorporate hidden storage when purchasing furniture can make a HUGE difference. Of course a trunk is not always a reality for everyone, but keeping this "strategy" in the back of your mind when purchasing furniture is important. Instead of a regular bench at the end of your bed, try to find one that doubles as a storage bench. Instead of an exposed coffee table with zero storage, why not look for one that has a few cabinets or drawers to hide a few things? Even if these pieces don't offer a TON of new storage, every little bit helps!

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PROBLEM #3:  I don't have an extra room, office, or basement to hide ugly, yet functional, items... like a printer, electronic cords and everything else that makes my home function.

SOLUTION #3:  Camouflage is key! Use creative solutions to store these everyday items in plain sight, where no one would even notice that they're there.

When you looked at that last picture of my office, did you notice the ugly printer sitting out? You probably didn't, but if you look close enough... it is there, hidden inside that basket on the bottom of that shelving unit!


In our small house with limited closet space and no basement, we don't have any extra space to hide functional items (yet total eyesores) like our printer. We love having a printer in the house and use it frequently, but we didn't exactly love the idea of leaving it out for all of our guests to see.


Without a closet or hidden space to turn to, we were forced to get creative and try our best to make this household item camouflage with the rest of our decor, yet still keep it accessible so we could print easily. Using a basket from HomeGoods, I used this tutorial to hide the printer in plain sight. I absolutely love that it blends in with the rest of the room, yet is still very functional and accessible!


Another nuisance that comes from office supplies and electronics, are cords. We too have struggled to keep our mess of tangled wires neat and organized. For our main electronics and their chargers, we both DIY'ed charging stations for our bedside nightstands.


This was an easy DIY that made a big impact in our bedrooms (you can check out the step-by-step here for Bridget's, and this one for Casey's).  We no longer have messy wires exposed, and our other cords are neatly wrapped up and easy to reach in our charging stations.


We keep our less frequently used cords & chargers in a box right on our built-ins (if you squint real hard you’ll see the large gray box on the right side!).


They're neatly wrapped up, labeled with washi tape, held together with clothespins, and you would never know they were hiding in plain sight right in our family room.

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PROBLEM #4:  I want to utilize my open-shelving for storage, but if I do, they aren't pretty anymore!

SOLUTION #4:  Secret storage can double as home decor... We promise!


It's true, you have our word that open shelving can be both pretty and functional at the same time. Take these shelves for instance, pretty decorative right? Well, sprinkled throughout this decorated shelf are secret opportunities to store stuff. The basket on the top shelf is home to some of our vases that are currently not in use, yet you would never know that just by looking. And do you see the box in the bottom left-hand corner of the shelf?


This DIY box is actually home to my mailing essentials. I can easily grab this box off of our shelf and find envelopes, stationery, postage stamps, an array of washi tape, and pretty much any other snail mail essential.


Baskets and decorative boxes are such great tools to help your shelves look pretty, yet stay pretty darn functional, all at the same time!

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PROBLEM #5:  I don't have a linen closet.

SOLUTION #5:  Our Chicago condo doesn't have a proper "linen closet." When we first moved in, I was really confused as to where the heck I should store our medicine, extra towels, washcloths, and toiletries. But instead of just shoving these items somewhere, I got creative.


I used this small amount of space we have in our "hallway" and added a tall dresser.


This bad boy holds clear shoe boxes with our medicine, some drawers hold towels, and others hold extra toiletries. It isn't a proper "linen closet," but it works just as well for our household. Just goes to show that sometimes you have to think outside the box to come up with solutions in a small space.



So what do you think? Are there spaces in your home that you can "sneak" in a little extra storage? With just a few tricks and a little creativity, you can make your space functional... while still looking fabulous! If we can do it, we promise that you can too.

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Hey There! We're Bridget and Casey, best friends, Chicago gals, and editors behind The DIY Playbook. Even though we consider ourselves busy girls with full-time jobs, husbands, and never ending to-do lists, we believe there is always time to add personality to our homes. On our blog, we strive to inspire our readers to inject their sparkling personalities into their own spaces with affordable and attainable solutions. We heart Instagram, can't turn down a cup of coffee, have no clue what we're doing in the kitchen, and are beyond excited to be part of the iHeart Organizing team!

31 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks!! Glad you enjoyed it =)

      -B&C @ the DIY Playbook

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  2. Right now I'm living in a two story with basement and garage but all that is going away in three years. Yes, I'm pinning this one.

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    1. Good luck Patricia and thanks for saving the post! As much as we were nervous to move into our small spaces, we have really come to love living with less. =) - B&C @ the DIY Playbook

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  3. Bridget and Casey, thanks so much for these great tips! Do you have any suggestions for how you store holiday decor? There are just not enough places to stack boxes with a tablecloth over them as side tables! Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Kay! The best suggestion we have is to try and limit the holiday decor as much as possible and only buy what you absolutely LOVE. From our experience, holiday decor tends to add up quickly and a lot of the items are gifted to us and we're just not in l-o-v-e. We try and re-evaluate our collection each year so that it doesn't become overwhelming to store. Outside of that, we try and be creative -- wreaths hanging in the garage, ornaments neatly packed in closets, etc. It's definitely not easy, we feel your pain!

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    2. Just wanted to chime in with a tip of mine: cheap throw away decorations. I have kids and i love to make things, so ive been focusing on decor that can be made up and pitched at the end. Things like live greens, curling ribbon, paper snowflakes, pompom garland and such. That way i still have plenty of room for the fewer special things like heirloom ornaments, nativity set, etc. I also make use of multi category items like candles and colored fabric, that can be used for more than just one holiday, that helps there be less needing storage at any given time. :)

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    3. OMG Yes, yes and yes!! Love these tips Hannah, thank you for sharing!! =)

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  4. I love these ideas, especially the printer basket. Bookmarking this for my future use too! And thanks to Jen for introducing me to DIY playbook, I've been following them since their first post on here and I love the blog ladies!

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    1. Thank YOU, Sue! We are so honored to be a part of the iHeart Contributing team -- we love Jen & everything she does here! xo, B&C

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  5. Hi!
    Thanks for that post! I need to organize a few rooms of my home again and that will definitely help me a lot! :)

    xx Mena
    http://www.eunha.at

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  6. Hi. Thanx for the great post. We live in Zurich, Switzerland in a 2-bedroom rental with 4(!) kids. For us that's normal AND we have enough space for everything. We just buy and own less. That is our best advice! Keep it up. Debs

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    1. We love hearing about other families making the most of their small space -- so glad to hear you are making your space work for a family of four. We feel even more inspired to live with less! Thanks for sharing =)

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  7. First off, I love your blog and I'm exciting you're contributing!! Second, this post could not be more timely as I'm trying to figure out a better winter clothes storage system! Any idea how the ikea storage cubes hold up against moths? Those look like the perfect under the bed storage system!

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    1. Aw, thank you so much Ker... thank really means the world to us!! Winter clothes are hard, but I think the IKEA storage cubes sound like a great idea. BUT we don't know how they would hold up to moths... sorry. =/ Good luck though and thanks again for your comment, you made our day!

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  8. Love this. Where did you get the navy blue loveseat in your office?

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    1. Thanks Stacey & West Elm! <--- I loved the style and really loved that it's "petite" for my small space.

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  9. I don't know how I've missed that golden trunk but I absolutely love it! Another favourite is the open shelving, we have similar storage cubes in our bedroom and they solve a lot of storage questions

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    1. Thanks Danielle! Can you believe it was only $10 at a garage sale?! Such a steal...

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  10. Great tips. I do not live in a small space but my family is large so they end up taking up much more space than what is needed. These are great tips to help keep my household functional.

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  11. Furniture pieces that do double duty is super important to me! one of the first purchases we made was these square ottomans from west elm (which they don't make anymore) but it's a glorious size and we pack so much in it. One is for games, the other is for stuff that is for the balcony. and it doubles as extra seating for when we have people over for dinner.

    Another piece which took us a LONG time to find was our bed, we got it from room & board. it was a pricey purchase, but BEST thing ever. we do not have a linen closet, but the footboard is a pullout drawer. you'd be none the wiser because it looks just as it's a footboard. but the drawer goes under half the bed. We slide the mattress forward to store our extra comforters. so the entire underside of the bed is utilized!

    There is a crate & barrel ottoman that I'd like to replace our current ottoman with -- it does TRIPLE duty...storage, there is a table that pops out so we could eat there, and extra seating/foot rest!

    I get all giddy with crazy fun storage ottomans that look inconspicuous!

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    1. Oh-my-goodness... LOVE the idea of a pullout drawer under the bed, that's genius!! Thanks for sharing. And those West Elm ottomans -- love that idea too. We are always looking for new ideas/products to give a try in order to maximize our space and we are so grateful for your feedback and expertise. Thanks Erin!

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    2. this is what i want: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/lounge-ii-storage-ottoman-with-tray/s658974

      Even though the price is obscene....but the idea is so perfect for us! we do eat at our dining table every night except pizza night we eat in the living room on the ottoman, so this would be perfect.

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  12. Thanks for sharing these great tips! I love the DYI charging station you created.

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    1. Aww, thanks Julie!! So sweet of you =)

      xo, B&C @ the DIY Playbook

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  13. Would I be murdered if I said I have a linen closet and don't use it at all!?

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    1. WOW, we are very impressed. We're all about living with LESS and you are earning an A+ in that category. We actually admire you for that and we should be taking tips from you! xo, B&C @ the DIY Playbook

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  14. Love the way you hid your Printer! I'm definitely stealing that idea!

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  15. I love this tall dresser that's featured at the end! What is it? Great way to have a linen closet, we don't have one in our master bathroom right now and this looks like a great idea!

    liz @ j for joiner

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    1. Thanks Liz Jo! It's actually an IKEA Hack, you can read our post about it here: http://thediyplaybook.com/2014/06/ikea-hemnes-dresser-hack.html

      Hope that helps answer your questions. xo B&C @ the DIY Playbook

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